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‘More people can die from treatable surgical conditions in days to come’

Karachi

March 6, 2021

More people could die from treatable common surgical conditions in Pakistan during the Covid-19 era as the capacity of the healthcare system with respect to surgical care has not been expanded to cater to rapidly increasing needs in the country, warned health experts while speaking at the inaugural session of the 6th AKU Annual Surgical Conference titled ‘Surgical Education and Training: Developing Standards’.

Experts said more people could die from treatable common surgical conditions if immediate measures were not adopted to enhance the capacity of healthcare institutions with respect to surgical care and facilities.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons, Pakistan, is the main certifying institution for surgeons, while public and private teaching hospitals bear the burden of responsibility for surgical education and training, they added.

“Long-term and short-term commitments are needed by the government bodies as well as the private sector to address the shortage of trained surgical specialists, non-uniform presence of trained surgeons in urban and rural areas and absence of a centralised structured training body,” said Hammad Ather, professor of surgery at Aga Khan University and the chair of the event organising committee.

“The need of the hour is to make surgical education and training curriculum compatible with national needs and global trends and develop cost-effective systems to produce an adequate number of skilled surgeons,” he added.

Some research studies in this regard were published in a special supplement of the journal of the Pakistan Medical Association . A study published in the supplement showed that a large proportion of surgical trainees in Pakistan experienced harassment, most frequently verbal and mental, with most cases passing unreported. Although overall harassment was similarly prevalent among male and female trainees, women were at a greater risk of sexual harassment. Additionally, many surgical trainees also faced burnout and depression, which may be associated with certain forms of harassment, such as bullying.

Researchers involved in the study were of the opinion that there was an overwhelming need for trainee surgeon support groups and other policies and interventions targeted at improving the workplace environment for surgical trainees in the country.

AKU Trustee and Executive Vice President Julie A Freischlag explained that the bravery was the quality or state of being brave, resolute in facing odds and able to meet danger or endure pain or hardship without giving in to fear. “During this pandemic, who you’re and wherever you’re, you need to speak up. You need to say that you’re not comfortable. You need to say something that perhaps isn’t popular, but that’s the only way you’re going to be able to make a change. When you’re brave, you empower others around you to be brave too. Be brave!” she stressed.

“The global crisis has led to a few constructive adaptations in healthcare systems, including the development of tele-clinics, virtual academic sessions and conferences, increased usage of simulation and well-being of healthcare providers,” said Adil Haider, the dean of AKU’s Medical College in Pakistan.